No timeframe fixed to mine uranium in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Sep 22 (UNI) Even as India was making an effort to obtain nuclear fuel from other countries, Principal Adviser, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), V P Raja today said there no timeframe fixed to mine uranium in Meghalaya.

'' We have no time deadline. We will proceed together with the consent of the state, '' Mr Raja said after a series of meetings with Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy, Deputy Chief Minister H S Lyngdoh and Leader of Opposition D D Lapang.

The Prime Minister's Office had deputed Mr Raja to clear the doubts of the government and anti-mining groups. Last month, Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar and Union Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar had visited Meghalaya and clarified doubts of the government and anti-mining lobbies on the mining issue.

Incidentally, Mr Raja's visit to Meghalaya coincided Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ten-day visit to the United States and France to see through the Indo-US nuclear deal, which would pave the way to obtain uranium and nuclear technology.

Terming today's meeting with the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Cinister and Leader of Opposition as ''constructive and extremely fruitful'', Mr Raja said the Centre would continue to have a dialogue and discuss on the pros and cons of the mining project.

The UCIL had proposed to develop an opencast uranium mining and processing plant at Mawthabah in the West Khasi Hills district of the state having an estimated deposit of 9.22 million ton of uranium ore.

In fact, the Union Government had decided to sanction Rs 800 crore for development of infrastructure in the proposed uranium mining areas, provided that the government evolved a consensus over the mining issue.

Despite all commitment, the UCIL had failed to drum up support for the project with several NGOs and anti-mining civil and human rights groups opposing it, citing human safety and environmental hazards due to radiation.

'' I don't understand what Mr Raja means by saying he had fruitful meeting with me. He came and met me just to campaign for uranium mining which I don't agree with them, '' Mr Lyngdoh said soon after Mr Raja and his team left his office chamber.

The Principal Adviser, accompanied by top UCIL officials, including Chairman and Managing Director Ramendra Gupta, tomorrow will meet the pro and anti-mining lobbies.

The state government earlier formed All-Party committee on uranium mining to evolve a consensus on the vexed issue.

India had so far identified uranium deposit at Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh. However, mining in Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh had not started.

New Delhi had stated that it needed nuclear fuel to feed it growing domestic energy needs. India wanted to generate 20,000 MW of power by 2020.

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